Tanzania: Gender Based Violence Rampant In Zanzibar
Zanzibar — SOME people already think that methods being applied to fight Gender Based Violence (GBV) particularly rape and abuse of women are failing to prevent the dilemmas in the community.
The most common methods being applied to stop GBV include awareness campaign, enforcement of the laws, and use of religious teachings asking people: men (perpetrators), children (victims), and women (victims) to know human rights, and also declare rape and abuse of women being against religious teachings. Despite the efforts which have been going-on for many years, with millions of tax-payers money from donors and home governments spent to control GBV in Zanzibar, devastating cases of violation of children and women are being recorded.
Teachers, law enforcers (police), male parents, and employers are main perpetrators and yet this group of respected people was highly expected to lead in the war against GBV and to protect children and women from any form of abuse. Anti GBV activist such as Abdulrahman Ismail, and Khadija Mwalimu think new methods of fighting GBV should be: introducing a compulsory GBV lessons from nursery schools and Quran schools, castration, life imprisonment, fines (millions of payment), and death penalty.
The current maximum penalty for rape widely (also in Zanzibar laws) defined as 'crime committed by a man, of forcing another person (including under the age of 18) to have sexual intercourse with him by threat or use of violence' is 30 years imprisonment in the islands. The recent incident on abuse was reported last week when a police officer in Pemba was charged of a serious allegation that he raped a 17 year-old student causing harm of her private parts and excessive bleeding.
According to eyewitness, the abused girl (name withheld), a sister to the perpetrator's pregnant wife, is a student at Uweleni secondary school, and that she (student) has been acting as a house girl until she was raped. "This is very sad; the poor girl is still in trauma, she needs to be helped. She was treated at Abdallah Mzee Hospital in Mkoani area and discharged," said Mr Abdallah Omar, community leader (Sheha) of Uweleni ward.
He appealed to people and parents not to keep secret of any abuse so that victims can be saved and offenders charged, "Rape cases are serious and tarnishes our image as a respected society. Let us join hands in ending abusing women and children." Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Hassan Nassir, South Pemba regional police commander (RPC) said, when contacted for comment, "the suspect has been charged in court, but we are still collecting evidence."
In another incident of GBV in Zanzibar, Tanzania Media Women Association (TAMWA) made a followup of a story in Mchangamle village, Kizimkazi tourist area, south Unguja Islands where one of the staffs of Residence- Zanzibar tourist hotel is alleged to have abused female employee (gardener) named Rehema Said Abeid, 26. According to Rehema, she was forced to undress her underpant and surrender it to the boss (a foreigner) for investigation after a male visitor reported to the hotel management that his pant had been stolen.
"I was mistreated. Investigations should take place, but the way I was handled by the boss was abusive action," she lamented as the management of the Hotel denied the allegations. Community leader (Sheha) Mr Mtibwa Said informed a team of journalists from TAMWA that similar cases of abusing women by employers at workplaces particularly tourist hotels have been rampant. Study shows that campaign against by GBV by local and international organizations such as TAMWA, Media Council of Tanzania (MCT), ZAFELA, UNFPA, UNICEF, SavetheChildren, the government, and other NGOs has helped improve public awareness, but still many children and women abuse cases are unreported.
"We still have a lot to do in fighting GBV. Many parents and children seem to be ignorant about the importance of reporting abuse cases. Some members of the community also feel shame to help victims of rape, and to most police officers, rape cases are minor to them," says Mwanajuma Kassim Makame. Mwanajuma, an officer of the Women and Children ministry in north Unguja, informed the daily news that ignorance remain a serious setback in the fight against GBV, also sometimes used as revenge by men.
It was recently reported that a man who allegedly raped a neighbour's daughter, and therefore his daughter was also raped as revenge; Ms Mwandio Makame said "that was the end of the story, and unfortunately the cases were not reported to police." Ms Mwandiwe Makame, activist from Chaani, north Unguja said most rape cases are obvious, but fail to proceed just because of ignorance of parents and victims (to report and give evidence), corruption within police and judiciary. "I think some rape cases do not require DNA machine to prove.
Unfortunately lack of DNA is now an excuse in many cases, and perpetrators are happy about it," said Mwandiwe. According to Ms Fatma Ali Haji from one-stopcentre for helping victims of rape and abuse mainly children and women, between 3 and 10 cases are recorded daily at the centre established at Mnazi mmoja hospital.